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Assistance Board Beneficiaries

Volume 523: debated on Monday 1 February 1954

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38.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance the total number of persons receiving payments from the National Assistance Board on 31st December, 1953; and the number of old age pensioners and other recipients of National Insurance benefits included in this total.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance
(Mr. R. H. Turton)

:At 15th December, 1953, regular weekly grants of National Assistance were being paid to 1,761,149 persons, of whom 1,227,063 had retirement pensions or other National Insurance benefits. Some of the grants covered the needs of a household containing more than one recipient of a pension or benefit.

:Is the Minister aware that those figures show an alarming increase over the figures at the end of the previous year? Will he not now consider raising the old age pension payments to take out of National Assistance large numbers of old people who ought not to be required to apply for it for extra relief?

If he examines the figures for this year and previous years, the hon. Member will note that there has been a continuous increase since 1948. The increase in the total number this year is less than the increase in preceding years.

:Is the Parliamentary Secretary not aware that as these increases go on accumulating it becomes all the more serious? As more than a quarter of the old people are now dependent upon National Assistance, will the Minister not do something about it?

:One of the reasons for the increase is that the National Assistance scales today are, rightly, at a more generous level than ever before. Another factor is that many of the older people exhausted their savings during the period of inflation from 1947 to 1951.

:Is the Minister aware that of the number of retirement pensioners receiving an allowance from the Assistance Board quite a large number also receive an increment in pension under the National Insurance Act, which is taken into account in assessing the allowance from the Board and defeats the purpose of the increment? Will the hon. Gentleman consider disregarding this amount of increment and thus safeguard the purpose of the increment?

In view of the nature of the reply, I give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.